5 existential questions for IT managers
Each year, research firm Gartner conducts a survey of CIOs and senior IT executives in organizations across North America. This helps to paint a picture of the challenges, investment priorities and future aspirations of senior leadership.
At Logient, we follow the results of these surveys closely, since it’s often a good indicator of what keeps our customers up at night.
This year’s results for Canada and the U.S. highlight three fundamental trends through 2025: the exit from the pandemic, the fear of a recession and the opportunities of artificial intelligence.
One common thread is that CIOs are under more pressure than ever. IT investments are expected to increase by four to five per cent, per year, for the next several years, and it’s expected this will directly impact the flagship objectives of the organization.
After analyzing the results of the survey, we’ve come up with five key questions for IT managers that can help them bring their projects to fruition:
1. How do we reduce the ‘time to value’ of IT projects?
In the classic film Jerry Maguire, a sports agent played by Tom Cruise can be heard in his office shouting, “Show me the money!” When reading the Gartner report, this is a phrase that often came to mind.
Indeed, there is growing pressure for IT managers to demonstrate a return on investment of IT projects. Although budgets continue to grow, it’s imperative the organization sees a return through revenue growth, increased customer satisfaction and/or cost optimization. Gartner calls this phenomenon the “decrease in time to value,” which refers to the narrowing timeframe in which an IT investment brings tangible results.
For IT managers, gaining more traction for digital projects means presenting “time to value” scenarios that impact overall revenues; earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA); or net promoter score (NPS).
2. How do we demonstrate that IT objectives are aligned with the overall objectives of the organization?
IT projects often take place over the long-term, sometimes over several fiscal years and, in some cases, with the oversight of different executive committees. As a result, it can be easy to lose sight of why a project is relevant and how it aligns with the often-changing goals of the business.
If there’s a change in leadership, the IT manager should review the organization’s goals with the new senior leadership team. Have the objectives of senior management changed? Are they still aligned with IT objectives? Is success being measured in the same way? This can provide proof points that the IT project portfolio is still helping to achieve the organization’s overall objectives.
3. How do we reconcile and integrate the contradictory, even conflicting, expectations of the various stakeholders into a single IT vision?
Today more than ever, the IT manager must juggle a series of expectations, often contradictory, even conflicting, from the various members of the executive team—including marketing, finance, HR and operations—as well as the board of directors and external stakeholders.
In this context, the IT manager must understand the different expectations, power dynamics, global objectives and orientation of the organization. A customer-oriented organization, for example, may see the expectations of sales and marketing managers take precedence, which would not be the case for an operations-oriented organization.
4. How can IT help attract and retain talent during a global talent shortage?
Studies on the subject tend to show that IT has a positive impact on talent attraction and retention. An organization undergoing digital transformation sends a signal to talent—especially younger talent—that it is dynamic, has an innovative culture, offers jobs with advanced technologies and optimizes processes to be more efficient.
It’s important to understand which IT projects can impact job satisfaction and make employees proud of the organization.
5. How do we put the foundations in place to host AI projects by 2025-26?
With the arrival of ChatGPT, we’re starting to see the potential of artificial technology and generative AI. The old adage applies here: “You have to learn to walk before you can run.” No matter the hype, AI relies on data to work its magic, and an organization that has no maturity in data science cannot hope to optimize itself with AI.
IT managers should focus on increasing that maturity and putting a foundation in place to prepare for AI in 2025-26. That means building capacities and expertise, raising awareness among senior management, finding and structuring data and establishing precise, realistic use cases.
An IT manager who is able to answer these five questions will be in a better position to gain the support of senior leadership and bring IT projects to fruition.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll dive deeper into each of these big questions in a series of articles. Subscribe to our newsletter and learn how to face the complex business challenges of today and tomorrow—and stay tuned via our LinkedIn and Facebook accounts.